Intent on showing the kind of performance potential that lies within its new 2011 Regal -- and on reaching out to a new segment of younger and more affluent buyers -- Buick is presenting the GS Concept in Detroit. Although a one-off for the moment, expect a production version of this high-powered, enthusiast-grade variant to arrive in Buick showrooms within the next year or so.
A 21st century take on Buick's classic Gran Sport package, the GS Concept melds many of the best mechanicals from its European cousin, the Opel Insignia OPC, with unique American-spec elements. Finished in Olympic White and trimmed with satin metallic accents, this Bad Boy Buick gets an edgier front fascia treatment with vertical air intakes, more sculpted rocker panels, a subtle integrated rear spoiler and dual exhaust outlets. It also features a lower ride height and distinctive 20-inch forged-alloy wheels that mount Z-rated 245/35 Bridgestone performance tires. Inside, the five-place cabin boasts an all-black motif and features a suede-covered flat-bottom steering wheel, deeply contoured Recaro sport buckets, aluminum pedals and a gauge cluster that glows ice blue when the drive switches the Interactive Drive Control System (IDCS) into "Sport" mode.
While the hard-core OPC gets its motivation from a 2.8-liter/325-horsepower turbocharged V6, the GS reflects Buick's commitment to four-cylinder power for the new Regal. It's fitted with an upgraded variant of the 2.0-liter direct-injected Ecotec engine that makes 255-horses in GS guise compared to the 220 T-charged ponies it will turn out in the 2011 Regal CXL. Developing a stout 295 lb.-ft. of torque and backed by a six-speed manual transmission, Buick says it will take the Regal GS from 0-60 mph in less than six seconds. Countering that extra go power is a race-bred Brembo brake package that features 14-inch cross-drilled rotors and four-piston calipers.
Like the Insignia OPC, the Regal GS does ship engine power to all four wheels using an adaptive all-wheel-drive system that also incorporates a limited-slip rear differential. It performance-tuned suspension -- as well as throttle response, shift pattern and steering sensitivity -- can be switched between normal, sport and GS modes at the touch of a button.
At its pre-show press reveal, comments by GM's Vice Chairman Bob Lutz and Craig Bierley, product marketing director for Buick, left little doubt that the Regal GS Concept was the package that we'd see in the showroom. The only questions left unanswered were exactly when and how much it would cost.